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Union outraged by beneficiary advocate’s comments

PSA Press Release
14 February 2005

Union outraged by beneficiary advocate’s comments

The Public Service Association (PSA) is expressing outrage at comments by the National Advocates Advisory Group suggesting that the unprovoked stabbing of a Hamilton Work and Income staff member was excusable because it was motivated by frustration.

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said the comments by the Group’s spokesperson, Paul Blair, calls in to question whether he should retain his role.

“It is totally unacceptable for Work and Income staff, or any public servant, to face the threat or reality of violence in the workplace.

“The comments Mr Blair made on radio this morning are also totally unacceptable. He appears to be asserting it is okay to assault public servants if a citizen is not happy with the level of service they receive.

“As it happens all available evidence indicates that the attack was completely unprovoked. But that is actually beside the point; public servants carry out the policy of the government of the day and they should not face violent reprisals from those who disagree with that policy.

“These latest remarks from Mr Blair suggest he regards violent or threatening behaviour directed at Work and Income staff as acceptable in some circumstances.

“This attitude is deplorable. The PSA has written to the National Advocates Advisory Group today inviting them to work with us to develop a code of conduct to guide their advocacy work with our members. We will be indicating to the Group the outrage our members feel at Mr Blair’s comments.

“We have also written to Work and Income advising them that we wish to participate in the review of security they have commenced following the incident in Hamilton last week,” Richard Wagstaff said.

[ends]

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